Featured Post

This is the Kodak Moment for the Auto Industry

Plug-In Drivers Not Missin' the Piston Electric vehicles are here to stay. Their market acceptance is currently small but growing...

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Tesla's 2023 Year in Review

Tesla Vehicle Line-up 2023

2023 was the year that Tesla turned 20; it was also the Year of the Tesla Truck (both Cyber and Semi). The first Cybertruck deliveries were kicked off in November and the Semi (officially launched in December of 2022) was put through its paces in 2023 as Pepsi-Fritos loaded them up and put the pedal to the metal.

Trucks were not the only Tesla vehicle news for the year though. Model 3 had its most extensive revamp ever with "Project Highland". Tesla partnered with tribes to dance around arcane state protectionist laws, an old Tesla founder returns as a new board member, and more. Let's look at each of these 2023 events:  

Cybertruck Launch 

Cybertruck was the biggest Tesla event of 2023 and we'll dive right into this one first. On November 30th, Tesla held the Cybertruck Launch event. The first owners took delivery of their vehicles on stage in Austin with crowds of onlookers in-person and online. 

Throughout 2023, the Cybertruck made news over and over. A glimpse of the frunk, the interior, exterior updates, the new user interface... Videos of four-wheel steering and crab walking, news.

The "No Flipping" clause in the Cybertruck purchase contract threatened to penalize violators $50,000 or more and never sell them another Tesla for the rest of their lives. This clause had the internet in a tizzy and customer backlash caused Tesla to remove it. However, it came back once again for the Foundation series Cybertrucks. 

Wraps 

Inspired by the paintless Cybertruck, Tesla started offering wraps and paint protection films. Black, white, or clear wraps are available for Cybertruck and six colors for the rest of the vehicle lineup. 

Tesla has some fun with Cybertruck wraps in 2023. They dressed one up as a Ford F-150 and another as a Toyota Tundra.

Cybertruck variants at launch

At the delivery event, final pricing, availability, and product details were announced. Three models were announced: single-motor RWD, dual-motor AWD, and a tri-motor AWD called the "Cyberbeast." Soon after the event a fourth variant was announced, the Foundation Series. This is a limited edition Cyberbeast that comes at a $20,000 premium and adds FSD and the special laser etchings seen above.

Compared to the 2019 unveiling of the Cybertruck many reservation holders were disappointed by the price increase compared to the more affordable $39,000. 

Range extender 

The range extender is an optional battery pack that increases the Cybertruck's range by 120–130 miles, taking the dual motor AWD range up to an estimated 470 miles. The range extender looks like a toolbox taking up about a third of the bed space. If you plan on towing any significant distance, this is something that you should consider. The exciting part of this is the possibility of range extenders being integrated into future accessories (trailers, campers...). 

via 
@JoeTegtmeyer
 on đ•

The ramp starts

As I write this, Cybertrucks are being delivered in California and Texas. There are about 2 million people that put down a $100 reservation. Many of them are eagerly awaiting there chance to configure and order. Currently, Tesla is making fewer than 100 trucks per week. Next year this production rate will grow and grow as manufacturing processes are improved and sped up.

48 Volts and Ethernet "Etherloop"

Before we leave this topic, we have to cover these two industry-changing Cybertruck innovations. 

Cars and trucks have been using 12 Volt batteries since the mid-1950s. The switch to 12 Volts (from 6V) was due to the evolution of car designs and features that required more power.

Today, we have more electrical demands on our vehicles than ever before. Automakers have occasionally released 48V prototypes, but they have never been able to bring the 48V architecture to market. Bringing a new architecture to market is not easy.

For 48V to work properly, all the accessories have to be designed for it. Every wiper motor, seat motor, light, computer, ABS, air bag controller... There are hundreds of components, made by hundreds of suppliers that have to be redesigned, tested, certified... 

Tesla was willing to do the hard work needed to bring 48V to market. They worked with their suppliers. When a part needed to be redesigned, Tesla would send engineers to work with the suppliers. It's a win-win. The supplier gets Tesla engineering to help update their product and Tesla gets a design that they know will meet their needs. 

If Tesla cannot find a supplier for a part that they need, they will bring the task in-house. They are not afraid of vertical integration

Now with all of the parts that they need working with 48V, how do you get that power to each of the components. In the Cybertruck there are 386 parts that need to be connected to aux power. The answer was to redesign the communications network in the vehicle and use those same connections for both communications and power delivery. Enter Ethernet. 

Today, vehicles typically use Controller Area Network (CAN) bus. The maximum data rate of CAN bus is typically 1 Megabit per second (Mbps). Tesla chose to replace the CAN bus with a 1 Gigabit Ethernet network. That's 1000 times faster than the CAN bus. And this same Ethernet network can deliver the needed 48V with a feature called Power-Over-Ethernet (POE). This reduces the number of wires that have to go to each of the 386 electronic components in Cybertruck. It also means the telemetry for all of the components can be delivered faster. 

Tesla refers to this as an Etherloop because they wire the Ethernet switches together in a loop with redundant bidirectional connections for fault tolerance. These higher voltage and faster data rates will be the new industry standard. Automakers have wanted both of these features for over a decade, but they had no leadership that could make it happen. Now that Tesla has cracked the code, others will be fast followers. 

Wrapping up Cybertruck 

This only scratches the surface of the Cybertruck (not an easy task). I'm sure there will be plenty more to discuss about the Cybertruck in 2024. 

Semi-truck

In September, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) conducted a study as part of their "Run on Less" program. This program tests electric semi trucks in real-world conditions with all results released in real time. A Tesla Semi truck traveled over 1,000 miles in a single day during these tests. This is something that many experts called impossible.

Jay Leno took the Semi out for a spin with Tesla's Senior Manager of Semi-Truck Engineering, Dan Priestley. Priestley explained how Tesla has iterated the semi over the last year. How they've collected data, talked to drivers, and used all of this feedback to make improvements to both the hardware and software in the semi.  

In October of 2023, Tesla began hiring to increase Semi production. 

Model 3 Highland

The Model 3 was introduced in 2017. With its sleek design, excellent performance, and more affordable price (compared to Model S and X), it quickly became the best selling EV in history. That title was soon overtaken by the younger sibling (Model Y), but more on that later. In 2023, Tesla offered a new version of Model 3 that added range and upgraded interior. This new version of Model 3 was codenamed "Project Highland." 

Highland offers significant chassis and suspension upgrades. The long range highland boasts an impressive range of up to 353 miles. The minimalist interior design, characterized by clean lines and the absence of traditional buttons and knobs persists and colorful LED ambient lighting is added.

Highland is shipping in China and Europe and is expected to launch in the North American market in early 2024. 
 

Model Y - Best Selling Car In The World

In 2023, the Model Y became the first all-electric vehicle to wear the crown of the world's best-selling car. As of July 2023, the Model Y edged out the Toyota Corolla for the top spot in new car sales worldwide.

5 Million EVs Produced

Speaking of production and sales, in September of 2023, Tesla announced that they had produced their 5 millionth EV. That's 5 million vehicles without tailpipes. 5 million cars that won't pollute as they wait in line at the after school pick up. 5 million cars that won't support the fossil fuel, drill and burn ecosystem.

50 Thousand NACS of Power- J3400

Tesla installed their 50 thousandth Supercharger in September of 2023. This network allows drivers to take their EVs on road trips. The Tesla network is by far the most complete and reliable charging network out there. 

Ford, GM, and others figured out that they could not compete with the Tesla network and their best course of action was to abandon the failing CCS standard and join the Tesla network. As you can see in the image above Honda, Kia, Jaguar, BMW, and others quickly followed. Stellantis and Mazda are among the few hold outs, but by 2025, if you want to sell an EV in North America, it better have a NACS connector, or it will be be considered by most EV shoppers.  

The automotive standards body known as SAE ratified NACS as J3400. This will make NACS stations eligible for National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) incentives.

Tribal Partnerships

Tribal lands are part of sovereign nations which exist within the borders of the U.S. Currently, 39 states include at least one tribal nation. As sovereign nations, tribal lands are not subject to state and local jurisdiction or restrictions.

Tesla has been partnering with tribal nations since 2021 to build showrooms, stores, or service centers on tribal lands. Some states have protectionist laws that require vehicles to be sold via a middleman (dealership) system. Tesla does not use dealerships. Instead, they sell direct to customers. Building on tribal lands allows Tesla sidestep these arcane laws. 

In 2023, Tesla opened two more locations on tribal lands. Tesla's tribal partnerships now include: 

  • First Nation of NambĂ© Pueblo in New Mexico at the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino
  • Santa Ana Pueblo: A partnership that builds on tribal land
  • Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun Casino and Entertainment Complex

Master Plan 3.0

In April of 2023 Tesla released their Master Plan 3.0, subtitled "Sustainable Energy for All of Earth."

This is an outline for moving to a world of abundant, pollution-free, energy. 

Optimus

In September of 2022, the world got to see the first wobbly steps of Tesla's robot named Optimus. In 2023, Tesla made great strides (literally and figuratively) in the Optimus program. The perception system was demonstrated with the bot sorting blocks and picking up eggs. The walking speed is much faster and looks much more natural. 

JB's Return

JB Straubel is one of the founders of Tesla. He was the CTO until he left Tesla in 2019 to found and run a battery recycling company called Redwood Materials. In 2023, JB took a seat on Tesla's board of directors.

Stock 

Tesla stock started the year at $108 per share and it is ending the year $248. That 230% growth for 2023. 

Powerwall 3

In September of 2023, Tesla launched Powerwall 3. The battery portion of Powerwall 3 is very similar to Powerwall 2; however, Powerwall 3 adds a fully integrated solar inverter. Whereas Powerwall 2 could only be AC connected, Powerwall 3 can be AC or DC connected; allowing Powerwall 3 to be more efficient in some configurations. If you are retrofitting batteries to an existing solar PV system, you'll want to use Powerwall 2s, but if you are installing a new solar and battery system, Powerwall 3 is the way to go since you won't have to buy a separate PV inverter.

Wrapping It Up 

Above, we covered that Tesla is now offering wraps, but it's time to wrap this up. As every year has been for Tesla, 2023 was an exciting one to follow. They have accomplished things that legacy car companies would have never attempted. They are the vanguard of the future of the auto industry. While other car companies are announcing that they are slowing their EV programs, Tesla relentlessly pushes forward. I have no doubt that 2024 will be equally as exciting.

Disclosure: 
I am long Tesla

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Tesla Model Y Snow Tire Range

2023 Tesla Model Y with Winter Tires

Winter is here and we've put snow tires on our new Model Y.  I was curious how this would impact our range, so I collected the data, crunched some numbers, and we'll look at the results. 

We recently installed a roof rack on our Model Y and we did a similar exercise. You can see the roof rack results here

Our vehicle: 2023 Tesla Model Y Dual Motor AWD
Options: 5-seater, 19" wheels

2023 Model Y Dual Motor AWD LR 5 Seater with 19" Wheels
Stock Tires & Wheels Winter Tires & Wheels
Tires Continental ProContact RX 255/24 R19 Michelin X-Ice Snow 255 /45 R19 104H XL BSW
Wheels 19’’ Gemini Vision VIS Cross II 73.10
Efficiency (miles/kWh) 4.2 3.4 (19% lower)
Efficiency (Wh/km) 147.6 183.3 (19% worse)

If you stop reading here, you might assume all of the efficiency decrease is due to the new tires. However, the pre-snow tire drives were in Sept. and early Oct. with temperatures in the mid-70s F (around 24C). The snow tire drives, on the other hand, were in late Oct. and Nov. with temperatures in the 30-50F (0-10C) range.

The colder temps reduce EV range in several small ways: 

  • The air is thicker and it takes more energy to move it aside
  • With the cold weather we turned on the cabin heater, seat heaters, and defroster 
  • Much like humans, battery packs have a temperatures range where they run best. So, in cold weather, battery conditioning turns on and uses energy.

Range Impacts 

Our vehicle was EPA rated with 330 miles of range.  The colder weather and winter tires reduce this ideal range by 19% bringing it down to 266 miles. 

This is one of the reasons that we purchased a long range EV. The EPA rated ranges are in ideal conditions, real life is often far from ideal. I want to make sure we still have range enough to make traveling easy even if we're traveling over mountains, in winter, with luggage on the roof rack... 

Disclosure: 
Use my referral code for any perks Tesla may be offering https://ts.la/patrick7819
I am long Tesla

Sunday, December 10, 2023

2024 is kNACkered For EVs Not Named Tesla

Jaguar (among others) will be using the
Tesla charging network in 2025

2024 is on course to be a lame-duck year for EV sales in North America for any automaker not named Tesla. Nearly every automaker (see list below) has pledged to support the Tesla-initiated charging standard now known as NACS or the North American Charging Standard for their EVs. The announcements from the automakers were largely made in late 2023; however, the charging port changeover doesn't happen until 2025 model-year vehicles. So in 2024, these automakers will offer-for-sale EVs with a charging port in its last year before being phased out. 

That charging port that is not long for this world is the CCS port. CSS has a patchwork of charging stations in various states of disrepair. JD Power has consistently ranked the CCS charging stations poorly.

Legacy automakers didn't have to build or support gas stations for their gas cars. They assumed the same would be true with EVs. However, the poor maintenance at CCS stations has hurt the EV ownership experience for their customers. EVs need a dependable charging network. This is a significant factor in owner satisfaction. If you have a car, you want to be able to drive it places. Occasionally, that means you might have to charge up someplace other than at home. This requires a robust "refueling" network. CCS was not that network.   

This drove automakers to leave CCS for greener pastures. More on this below in the 'Why CCS Failed' section. Reluctantly, automakers are embracing the solution from the upstart Tesla to gain access to the vast reliable charging network that Tesla has created.

Who is Joining NACS

Companies Joining NACS: 
• 2023.05.26 : Ford (Lincoln)
• 2023.06.09 : GM (Chevy, Cadillac, GMC)
• 2023.06.20 : Rivian
• 2023.06.22 : FLO (Charging Network)
• 2023.06.27 : Volvo
• 2023.06.27 : ChargePoint (Charging Network)
• 2023.06.28 : Blink (Charging Network)
• 2023.06.29 : Polestar
• 2023.06.29 : Electrify America (Charging Network)
• 2023.07.07 : Daimler (Smart, Mercedes-Benz) 
• 2023.07.10 : Lotus
• 2023.07.19 : Nissan (Infiniti)
• 2023.08.18 : Honda (Acura) 
• 2023.09.22 : JLR (Jaguar, Land Rover, a division of Tata Motors)  
• 2023.10.05 : Hyundai (Genesis, Kia)
• 2023.10.17 : BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce
• 2023.10.20 : Toyota (Lexus)
• 2023.10.23 : BP Pulse (Charging Network)
• 2023.11.01 : Subaru
• 2023.11.06 : Lucid
 
Volkswagen, Stellantis, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, and Mazda still have not announced NACS support, but it's clear if you want to sell EVs in N. America after 2025, the NACS connector will be the standard. By the time you are reading this, many (all?) of these legacy holdouts may have already announced support.

Many EV buyers may be reluctant to buy the final year of a car with a charging port that will require them to use adapters for nearly every charging event (more on this coming up).

Why'd CCS Fail?

The largest CCS network in North America is the combination of Electrify America and Electrify Canada. These networks were created as part of the $2B+ Diesel-gate scandal settlement.

For a charging network, reliability is vital! When you pull up to a charging location, you expect to be able to, well, charge up. Sadly, far too often, at Electrify America stations this was not possible. Stations would be down for repair or blocked. This often meant that the few spots that were not blocked and operational had a long line of cars waiting to drink in the lepton juice. 

JD Power has repeatedly ranked Electrify America as poor for reliability. It's almost like forcing a business into existence via mandates and fines is not the best way to create a company filled with people passionate about their mission. A headline from The Verge says it well for the state of charging in the US in 2023, "EV charging in the US is still a no good, very bad time — and somehow it’s getting worse." If that was not enough, here's another, "Car Companies Are Beyond Fed Up With Electrify America: Report."

Surprisingly, customers occasionally want to drive their EV more than half a charge away from their home charging station. Drivers of CCS-equipped vehicles are fed up with the unreliable infrastructure and they are letting the automakers hear this loud and clear. 

Both Ford CEO Jim Farley and US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm both attempted road trips in 2023 using CCS vehicles and found the infrastructure deficient.

Tesla owners charge about 3 times more often at Superchargers than owners of other EVs charge at CCS fast chargers. This is because Tesla drivers know that the Supercharger network is reliable. They will be able to charge up and continue the drive without major hassles.  

Vehicle makers that have joined the NACS coalition

Adapters & MagicDock

There will be adapters that allow CCS-equipped vehicles to charge up at NACS stations, so the CCS vehicles will not totally be left in the lurch. And there are the MagicDock Supercharger stations. MagicDock Superchargers have a built-in CCS adapter. If you just walk up and grab the handle, it will be the native NACS connector. However, if you login to the Tesla app (or an app that supports the Tesla app APIs), then you can request a CCS connector on a specific stall and the CCS adapter will lock onto the connector. Then when you pull the connector out, it will have CCS for your 2024 or prior year non-Tesla vehicle. 

While CCS cars will be able to charge, charging with an adapter or MagicDock is not as convenient as a native NACS experience. With NACS, you just grab the handle and plug it in. When the charge is complete, unplug and drive off. No app, no adapter, to membership card to deal with. Billing is handled automatically via Plug-n-charge. 

With CCS, you'll need an adapter. If you are using an adapter, the charging handle may not properly lock to the vehicle or the charging rate may be reduced. If you are using the MagicDock, then you'll have to use an app to tell the station that you want to charge with the CCS adapter. Then after the station is informed, only then will you be able to remove the charging cable with the CCS adapter locked on. Neither of these is as simple as the NACS experience. If you plan on keeping your car for years, that's years of dealing with apps and adapters for every on-the-road charging experience.    

Coopetition 

When companies compete, there's reason to innovate. A company that can make or do something better, faster, cheaper... has an advantage. There are times, however, when cooperation between companies is better for the customer and the companies. There are times when standardization increases the available market and allows companies to show their strengths in other ways. 

When this is the case, standards to the rescue. With all the automakers adopting NACS, they will all have the same robust charging network. This means that EV makers will have to compete in other ways, such as range, performance, price...

One Port To Rule Them All

There are no separate gas stations for Fords or Toyotas. If you drive a gas-powered car, you just go to the gas station (nearly any gas station) and fill up. The only consideration of concern is Diesel or gasoline. This is not that hard and with rare exceptions, people can successfully fill up every day.

Charging an EV is not that simple yet. With an EV, there are different networks. Some are AC, some are DC, some take credit cards, some require membership and have apps or membership cards; some have QR codes to scan. And there's another layer of complexity, the charging ports. You have to know if your car has just AC charging or if it also has DC fast charging and if so, which kind of port(s). In the US, there's J1772, CHAdeMO, CCS, and Tesla (now called NACS). You're out of luck if you pull up to the wrong type when you need to charge. Well, unless you have an adapter that allows you to convert the charging station connector to the type that your car needs. And when you use these adapters, you are often greatly restricted in the top charging rate.

For EV to go mainstream, this needs to be simple. Multiple network memberships, multiple connector types, adapters... this is all far too complicated. Most of the time an EV is just charging in its own garage, and this doesn't matter. However, when you go on a road trip, on-the-road EV charging is anything but simple (unless you have a Tesla, more on that later).

We need one continent-wide, universal connector, with payment simplicity and plug-in simplicity (without adapters). One plug, any place, AC or DC, that just works. For EVs to become ubiquitous, charging has to be easy. You should not have to know multiple standards, voltages, amperages... It has to be simple, plug in, charge up, drive off. When there are multiple competing standards like we have today, there's a layer of complexity that creates an obstacle to mass EV adoption. 

There are times when proprietary solutions are the right way to go. This can allow innovation and differentiation. There are other times when standardization benefits the manufacturers with commodity parts with higher volumes and lower prices. Standards make it more convenient for owners too. If there's one charging standard, then you won't have to know if you have a CHAdeMO, CCS, J1772, or NACS port on your car or which connectors are at the charging location that you plan on stopping at on your road trip.

This move by all automakers to adopt NACS removes a layer of complexity. Now, automakers will compete on other features like range, performance, price...

While I think this is the right direction, I wonder if automakers have Osborned themselves by announcing that they will have something cool in 2025, but then expecting people to buy their 2024 vehicles.

2024 Has Other Headwinds Too

Other Headwinds: Interest Rates

Most people buy cars with financing. They take out a car loan and make monthly payments. Other things being equal, the higher the interest rate, the higher the monthly payment. Car loan rates are about 8% for new cars and even higher for used vehicles. They have not been this high since the Great Recession in 2009.

Most people would rather spend their money buying a car that they like rather than paying interest. So some buyers are likely to sit on the sidelines, keep driving the car they currently have, and wait to see if 2025 has better rates.

Let's compare buying a $50,000 vehicle with a $10,000 down-payment (or trade-in) with $2,400 in title registration and other fees rolled into the loan at today's rates versus last year's. 

2022: 
1.2% Loan Interest Rate
Down-payment: $10,000
Loan Amount: $42,400
60 Month Loan
Monthly Payment: $728
Total Cost: $53,706

Today:
8.1% Loan Interest Rate
Down-payment: $10,000
Loan Amount: $42,400
72 Month Loan
Monthly Payment: $745
Total Cost: $63,675

There are a few things to unpack here. The first thing to note is that, if you're taking out a loan, overall you'll pay about $10,000 more in today's environment.  

The second thing to note is that the second loan is 72 months rather than 60 months. That's because most people are concerned with the monthly payment more than anything else. To make the payments similar for these two loans, the term of the second one had to be extended. 

Other Headwinds: Falling EV Prices

Falling EV prices seems like it would be a sales accelerator. In the long term, it will be; however, if the prices are dropping and they look like they might keep dropping, there's a temptation to wait and see how low they may go. 

Multiple battery factories are being built. Batteries are by far the single highest cost of EVs today. As these factories come online in 2024, battery prices will drop and EV prices will follow.

Falling prices of critical minerals will lead to a 40% drop in the cost of batteries for electric vehicles by 2025, with big implications for the pace of global EV adoption, says Goldman Sachs Research. So if you can wait, you'll likely get a better deal in 2025.


Wrapping Up

The current CCS charging network in North America is not good. The only network that is robust and reliable is the Tesla Supercharger (NACS) network. Automakers are giving up on CCS and moving to NACS as fast as possible, which is 2025 model-year vehicles.

This means that 2024 will be the final year of CCS cars. CCS is now officially the Betamax of charging standards and 2024 will be its final year of sales. CCS is a dead-end technology.

Will EV shoppers buy the final model year of a standard that's fading away? Or will they save their pennies for another year and see what 2025 brings? With high interest rates and falling prices in 2024, it is tempting for buyers to sit on the sidelines and hold out for 2025 where they may get a better vehicle at a lower price with better financing and a native NACS port.

You can call 2024 a transition year, a lame duck year, or an Osborne year. If buyers sit on the sidelines, non-Tesla EV sales in North America 2024 is kNACkered.

Counterpoints 

There are plenty of EV drivers that disagree with this assessment. They argue that the NACS changeover is not that big of a deal. Comparing CCS to Betamax is hyperbole since there will be adapters (unlike Betamax video tapes) and there's MagicDock meaning that more and more Tesla locations will be able to charge CCS vehicles after just a tap or two in an app. Plus the existing CCS network (as bad as it may be) is not going away and it will be better supported as more EVs hit the road and start using the network in 2024.

Similarly, the point about interest rate impacts is overplayed. Interest rates will hurt all auto sales, not just EVs. So the growth of EVs as a percentage of new auto sales will increase in 2024, even if the volume of sales is down or flat compared to 2023.

disclosure: I'm long TSLA and several other EV stocks

Saturday, November 25, 2023

EVs for EVeryone :: Making EVs Affordable


Electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain and cheaper to "fuel" than internal combustion vehicles. From an economic perspective, the initial vehicle price is the only thing holding many consumers back from purchasing an EV. The good news is that EV prices are decreasing; albeit slower than we'd like.

Charging At Home Is Convenient (and affordable)

EV ownership is much easier if you own a home and have a garage. You install a residential EV charging station in your garage and you charge overnight (when rates are often at their lowest). Then you start out each morning with a full charge.

Depending on where you live, the cost per mile driven can be about the same as gasoline priced at $1 per gallon.

Charging away from home is often more expensive; workplace and hotel guest charging, however, is often free.

Borrow Instead of Buy

If you are lucky enough to live in an area that has an EV car-share program like "CRuSE" (Clean Rural Shared EV), you can borrow an EV for just $2 per hour. 

Incentives

When you are buying, tax incentives certainly help ease that upfront cost. And now that this modern era of EVs is entering its teen years, there's a healthy and growing used EV market. 

Prices Are Dropping

However, the incentives will not be required for much longer. Battery technology keeps advancing, bringing longer ranges, faster recharge times, and (most importantly) lower prices. Later this decade, EVs will have a lower starting price than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Then with the additional lower running costs, it will be a no-brainer.

Multiple battery factories are being built today. Batteries are by far the single highest cost of EVs today. As these factories come online in 2024, battery prices will drop and EV prices will follow.

Falling prices of critical minerals will lead to a 40% drop in the cost of batteries for electric vehicles by 2025, with big implications for the pace of global EV adoption, says Goldman Sachs Research.

Consider A Used EV

If you're looking for an affordable EV today, a used one is your best bet. We recently purchased a 2016 Chevy Spark EV. It only has about 60 miles of range, but it is our runabout vehicle. The range is perfect for errands. It starts out every morning fully charged, ready for the day. 

Once You Get Here, It's Fun!

EVs are fun to drive, smooth, quiet, and peppy. When the performance, range, and size fit your needs, it's magical.

Ω

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Tesla Powerwalls and PGE VPP Rule Changes


PGE has announced a major change to their Virtual Power Plant (VPP) program called SmartBattery. 

With the old program, participating homeowners (with home batteries such as our Tesla Powerwalls) were paid $20 per month for signing up to the VPP, making our batteries available to the utility. Each time there was an event, you could opt out if you liked. If you didn't opt out, then during an event PGE would pull energy out at a max power rate of 3kW. The events were generally 3 or 4 hours and limited to a total of 9kWh of energy per participant. The events happened throughout the year with August generally the most active month.

This was a nice system because the payment rate was consistent, but that's not how the new program works. Rather than just paying for availability, the new method pays you for actual participation by the kWh. You can see the payment rate below is $1.70 per kWh.  


Electricity around here is generally rather cheap (around 11 cents per kWh), so getting paid $1.70 per kWh is quite a premium. 

The new program also has new controls that allow you to specify how much of your battery charge you allow to participate in the event. You can see below that there are options of 30%, 50%, or 80%. 


The more of your battery that's used, the more kWh you provide to the grid, the more you get paid. I think this is a better structure than paying $20 per month, even if you opt-out each time. 

Comparing Plans

How do these two compare? From a financial perspective, the first one is easy to calculate: $20 per month for 12 months is $240 per year. 

The new program is not as easy to calculate. In 2022 there were 15 events. We contributed 9kWh to each. Applying the new rules, that would be $229.50 ($1.70 * 9 kWh * 15 events). That's a little less than the $240 from the old program; however, in the new program, I have opted for the maximum participation tier. So now I could contribute up to 32kWh per event. Meaning it's possible that my batteries could earn $600 per year. 

If you're in the Portland General Electric service area and you have residential batteries, check out the SmartBattery program if you want to help keep the peaker plants turned off and you want to earn a few dollars.

If you'd like to read more, you can learn about Powerwalls here.

If you want to buy your own Powerwalls, you can use my referral link for any referral bonuses that Tesla may be offering. Disclosure: I'm long TSLA.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Tesla Model Y Roof Rack Impact On Range


We've installed a roof rack on our Tesla Model Y. 

I wanted to know if this would have any impact on our range / driving efficiency. The good news is that we have a ~170 mile round trip drive that we made just before the rack was installed. Then after the rack was installed, we made the same round trip. I collected data for both drives so this made for a good chance to compare.

This drive is mostly freeway speed driving on Interstate-5. Of course, there are a lot of variables that impact range (e.g., tire pressure, speed, weather, elevation changes...). The nice thing about this comparison is that it's nearly the same route, similar weather days, same vehicle, same driver... So this is about as apples-to-apples as we can get.

Before the roof rack was installed: 

Distance: 167.90 Miles
Energy Used: 42.52 kWh
Drive Time: 3 hours, 4 minutes
Ave Speed: 54.75 MPH
Temp: 67°F there, 69°F back
Efficiency: 253.4 Wh/mile or 3.95 miles per kWh

After the roof rack was installed:

Distance: 170.18 Miles
Energy Used: 40.40 kWh
Drive Time: 3 hours, 12 minutes
Ave Speed: 53.18 MPH
Temp: 73°F there, 79°F back
Efficiency: 237.4 Wh/mile or 4.21 miles per kWh 

Well there you have it. Looking at these numbers, there's no significant range impact from the roof rack. In this comparison, the drive with the roof rack was actually more efficient. This was not because of the roof rack, it was likely the slightly lower speed or the warmer air temp reducing drag.

To be clear, this was with no cargo on the roof; just the installed roof rack.

Conclusion 

The roof rack had no notable impact to the driving efficiency or range. Other variables such as speed, temperature, elevation, tire pressure... have far more impact on range than the presents or absence of the aerodynamically shaped Tesla roof rack.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

The Decade That Changed Everything

A few years ago, I shared a scary Halloween story about how the entire economy is going to collapse over the course of this decade. This year, I thought I'd share the more positive side of that "collapse"; rebirth. 

Only when looking back, with a few years of perspective, can you really see the things that make a decade stand out. During the decade, when you are living it, it's hard to know the day-to-day things that will define it. Now, it's easy to see that things like water beds, big hair, M-TV, neon leg warmers, shoulder pads, and hammer pants define the decade of the 1980s. What will define the 2020s decade? 

We're less than halfway through this decade, and it's certain that things like the pandemic and the insurrection will cover pages in the future history books, but I'm interested in things that will influence the culture of that future society that's reading that history book. I think it's starting to become clear that the phase-out of fossil fuel usage, is truly underway. It will take a generation for it to come to fruition, but it is making more progress now than it ever has. 

This is the decade that will cross the chasm; this decade will be the tipping point.

EVs, solar, and wind power are not new, but steady efficiency improvements and advances in battery technology have taken these to a new level of performance and grid integration. 

Performance improvements have made them more desirable, increasing demand; allowing production levels to increase; allowing the price to be reduced; thereby further increasing demand. It's a positive feedback loop, a virtuous cycle, and it's gaining momentum.

Phasing out fossil fuels will be a big change. At one time, people smoked cigarettes in nearly every place. They smoked on airplanes, in restaurants, and in workplace offices. Today, looking back on that time, we wonder why that was ever allowed. It just seems dumb that this behavior was tolerated. It didn't matter if you were a non-smoker, a child, or infirmed, you were subjected to secondhand smoke in everyday life. It seems unthinkable that you couldn't sit down in a restaurant and have a meal without being engulfed in carcinogenic fumes. 

Similarly, a few decades from now, people will look back at today with similar incredulity at the days when we were sitting in traffic jams surrounded by tailpipes. They'll look back at parents in cars idling in queues for school drop-off and pick-up, all the while spewing out deadly emissions while little lungs are breathing nearby. They'll wonder why we used fossil fuels for more than a century; especially after the turn of the millennium when the downsides had become painfully obvious.

For fun, let's look at how an academic in 2035 might look back at today in an attempt to understand why our society was so slow to move to the inevitable renewable future.


Term paper, December 2035, The Societal Dissociative Disorder That Allowed Continued Fossil Fuel Usage In The Early 21st Century 

Abstract:

The paper investigates the phenomenon of "Societal Dissociative Disorder" (SDD) and its implications on the continuation of fossil fuel usage during the early 21st century. By the year 2035, the consequences of climate change have become apparent, necessitating a critical analysis of the societal and psychological factors that hindered a timely transition to renewable energy sources.

Drawing from extensive historical records and contemporary research, this study examines the psychosocial mechanisms that facilitated the perpetuation of fossil fuel dependency. We propose that SDD, a collective cognitive and emotional disconnection from the long-term consequences of continued fossil fuel use, played a significant role in prolonging the reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

This paper shows the global energy landscape during the early 21st century, highlighting the dominance of fossil fuels and their pervasive influence on various sectors of society. Subsequently, it explores the cognitive biases and socio-political dynamics that contributed to the denial and minimization of climate change impacts, thereby reinforcing the status quo.

Furthermore, our research identifies the powerful interests and industry lobbying that constructed barriers to comprehensive climate policy reform. By analyzing case studies of historical environmental movements, we demonstrate how entrenched economic interests and disinformation campaigns perpetuated SDD and effectively hindered meaningful climate action.

Moreover, this paper delves into the psychological underpinnings of SDD, examining the mechanisms of psychological distance and temporal discounting that blunted the urgency of transitioning to sustainable energy alternatives. We draw parallels to other societal issues where dissociation from long-term consequences has been observed, providing a broader framework for understanding SDD.

Finally, the paper explores successful initiatives and strategies that ultimately led to the transformative global shift away from fossil fuels. By learning from past mistakes, this study offers valuable insights into overcoming SDD and fostering a collective consciousness that prioritizes sustainability, clean air, clean water, and environmental stewardship.

In conclusion, this paper highlights the relevance of addressing SDD as a key aspect of driving societal change to sustainable energy practices. Only by acknowledging and confronting this psychological phenomenon, can generation alpha be better equipped to navigate complex global challenges and avoid the mistakes of the early 21st century.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Tesla's 2 Million Vehicle Production Year Will Have to Wait

Looking at the production volumes from Tesla last year, it sure looked like this would be the year to hit 2 million vehicles produced in a single year. Fremont and Shanghai Gigafactories were going all out and Giga-Berlin and Giga-Austin were ramping.

The battery cell constraints that have held them back in previous years were resolved.

My hopes for 2023 were high. Tesla sent more reasonable guidance and said that they were expecting to produce 1.8 million vehicles. Tesla is not known for softball targets. They set aggressive targets. They may not always meet them 100%, but they still deliver incredible results. 

I hoped they'd blow past the 1.8 million guidance in November; allowing December's production to push them over the 2 million mark. 

It does not appear that 2 million will happen this year. Tesla announced early in Q3 that they'd be shutting down lines during the quarter for maintenance and upgrades and that's exactly what happened. Q3 of 2023 is one of the few quarters where Tesla didn't set a new production record. It still has impressive year-over-year growth, but it's about 50,000 fewer cars than Q2'23. 

Given all of this, here's the new 2023 estimate. 
Our production prediction for Q4'23 is 555,000 vehicles. If achieved, it would be a record quarter and the first time that they've produced more than half a million vehicles in a single quarter. That would bring the year's production to 1,906,000. This is well ahead of Tesla's guidance, but short of the 2 million I wanted to see. 

Regardless, 2023 already has over a million vehicles rolling off the line with the iconic T logo on the hood. That's millions of vehicles without tailpipes deployed. Far ahead of any other auto manufacturer. 

For Tesla to meet their guidance, they'd have to produce 450,000. They've done more than that in Q2 of this year, so it looks very likely that they'll meet their production target and maybe even a little upside surprise to end the year. 

Disclaimer: I'm long TSLA. Feel free to use my referral code http://ts.la/patrick7819.

Friday, October 13, 2023

The 4 Horsemen of the Auto & Oil Industry Apocalypse

This was originally posted on October 1st 2020. Since today is Friday the 13th of October, it seems fitting to republish it. Enjoy.


It's October, it seems appropriate to start the month off with an epic horror story.

 

The automotive and oil industries are, collectively, the largest industry on the planet. We fight wars for oil resources, their lobbyists hold sway over every aspect of our government. The value of assets under their control is worth trillions of dollars... 

Regardless of their massive size, things are about to change. There are four megatrends that will ride roughshod over this behemoth. During times of inflection, giants can fall: Kodak famously missed the digital revolution; Blockbuster missed the transition to streaming. During this transportation transition, which brands or companies that we know today, that seem indelible, will fall to Death's scythe and fade into the annals of history?

We still take photos, just not with Kodak cameras. We still watch movies, just not from Blockbuster. Soon, we might be saying; we still drive cars, just not powered with petrol. 

The 4 Horsemen that are upending the 100-year-old status quo are: 

  1. Electrification of Transportation 
  2. Declining Ownership & Mobility as a Service 
  3. Self-driving Cars
  4. Pace of Innovation 

These 4 will shake up the auto and oil industry more in the next decade than we've seen since Henry Ford reinvented the vehicle production line. New players will emerge, some old players will adapt, others will die as we start a new chapter in human history. As a species, we're now evolving beyond petro-sapien and the world will be reshaped. 

Let's look at each of the Doomriders.

Horseman #1 Electrification of Transportation

Our first and biggest harbinger of doom is Electric Vehicles (EVs).

California Governor, Gavin Newsom, issued an executive order on September 23rd, 2020 that requires all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the state by 2035 to be zero-emission. California is one of the largest car markets in the US and if the other gang of 13+ CARB states follow, this will seriously curtail gas car sales. A lot can change in 15 years, but the direction is clear. 

The legacy automakers are heavily invested in their internal combustion infrastructures. The factories and supply chains they've established are not simple to change from combustion vehicles to electrically powered ones. Converting them will be expensive and auto companies are not flush with cash. The assets and know-how that once enabled them to be profitable are now (or are soon to be) stranded assets and liabilities. Legacy automakers have been reducing their dividend payments as their stock prices decline and their debts grow. Declining combustion vehicle sales will reverse the economies of scale that these vehicles enjoy today; further pushing the downward spiral of the auto-pocalypse.

While the legacy automakers are tied to an anchor pulling them down, Wallstreet seems to be tripping over themselves to fund electric car start-ups. Tesla has had round after round of capital raises, most recently a $5B capital raise in 2020, and $2.7B before that in 2019. The market has rewarded Tesla with a higher stock price each time they raise money, viewing these as 'growth accelerators'. This applies to other EV upstarts as well; investors seem far more interested in small start-up companies in the growing EV market rather than large companies in the declining ICE market.

Tesla recently shared the below graph at their Battery Day event. 

This graph is for the 1st half of 2020 and you could argue that 2020 had been anomalous in many ways and not a valid sample for future predictions. However, times of crisis accelerate transitions so perhaps this is a better view of the future. Bloomberg estimated that at least 50% of global car sales in 2040 will be electric. If the trend in the above graph continues, many of the legacy automakers will not survive. 

Several trends are driving EV adoption: 
  • Battery technology has been continuing to improve by 5%-7% per year. This means that each EV generation is slightly more capable than the previous. Range, towing, recharging time... are all related to the battery, and all are improving each year and projected to continue to improve into the foreseeable future. 
  • Battery cost has similarly continued to decline (see graph below). This allows capable EVs to move into lower price-points. A recent Forbes article said that Tesla's upcoming $25,000 EV would be "game over for gas and oil". Additionally, this price reduction allows larger packs, with more range and more performance, to be used in high-end EVs. There are now multiple EVs with more than 500 miles of range announced for 2021. Five hundred miles! 
  • EVs are popular with buyers because they are smooth quiet rides that require less maintenance and are far more affordable to fuel. JD Power reports that EV buyers have very high satisfaction rates and most never want to own another gas-powered car after owning an EV.
  • Government incentives. Many municipalities are encouraging EV adoption to meet CO2 reduction targets. The incentives use a range of carrots and sticks. These could be tax incentives, sales tax waivers, parking privileges, carpool (HOV) lane access even with a single occupant, increased gasoline taxes (making EVs a better alternative)... 
All of these trends are pushing more of the market into electrified transportation, whether the legacy automakers are ready for it or not. The impact of this transition will not only be felt by the auto industry but also by gas and oil.

According to TradeArabia, EVs are expected to offset oil demand by 1.2 million barrels per day by 2025. ExxonMobile, once a stalwart of the Dow Jones Index, was recently removed from the index after serving 92 years as a member of the elite company list. The transition to electric 'fuel' is in its infancy, and the impacts are already causing giants to stumble.

Horseman #2 Declining Ownership

“The things you own end up owning you.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Next on our list of creative destruction is a generational change in how cars are viewed. If you were born in the US before 1990, when you turned 16, you wanted a car. A car meant freedom. Freedom to go see your friends, to go on adventures, to go on dates and (if it went well) to steam up the backseat windows looking for paradise by the dashboard light.

Teens today live in a different world. Much of their social life is online. They don't need a car in order to hang out with their friends. Cars are no longer viewed as the iconic symbol of freedom. A car is just a method to get from A to B (if travel can't be avoided).

The mentality of a car as merely a tool opens up many opportunities for change. If you live in an area with a dense enough population, rideshare or scooters are options for most trips. If you want dinner, meal delivery is only a few taps away on a smartphone; similarly, grocery delivery is just another app. On the rare occasion that you need a car for something like a weekend getaway, you rent one (Getaround, Turo...). Collectively, these are called mobility as a service (MaaS). 

As the Fight Club quote goes, “The things you own end up owning you,” and this is especially true with cars. Owning a car is demanding both financially and timewise. Using MaaS means that you don't have to buy a car, pay for gas, buy car insurance, pay for maintenance, fluids, tires, parking... If all of your mobility needs can be met without owning a car, this is appealing to many.

MaaS is easiest in an urban or suburban environment and the percentage of the population in these sections of the country has been steadily increasing for decades. This means that MaaS adoption trends will likely continue to increase too. 

Another trend that is enabling the decline in car ownership is working from home. The pandemic has caused many employers to rethink their office policies. If you are not commuting daily, the need to own a car is also reduced. 


Horseman #3 Self Driving Cars

Our third disruptive horseman (or should that be horseless carriage man) is autonomous cars. This technology is not yet here in any significant manner, but it. is. coming.  And when it does arrive, many fleet managers and vehicle shoppers will not consider buying a car without it. 

This technology puts automakers in competition with big tech companies like Google (Waymo), Amazon (Zoox), and Tesla; as well as a swath of start-ups. This is not a fight that legacy automakers are equipped to win. They will have to find technology partners and hope the partnership is fruitful. Again this is a gauntlet that some legacy automakers may not survive.

This threat is enabled by the first two horsemen. When vehicles are fueled by electricity, they are cheaper to operate. When the driver can be removed, they can run 24/7 further amortizing the cost thereby making them yet again cheaper to operate. The first company to make a seven-nines reliable autonomous driver AI system will be in high demand.


Horseman #4 Fast-Paced Innovation

Our ultimate horseman sits atop the fastest thoroughbred of this apocalyptic harras, Innovation.

Transportation is likely to change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 100 years. These extraordinary technological advances are causing an epic shift to multiple trillion-dollar industries. Before the emergence of this wave of EVs, starting with the Volt and the Leaf in 2010, the industry had stagnated. California tried to use mandates to force automakers to bring EVs to high-volume production in the 1990s, but the automakers sued the state and the mandates were overturned (See Who Killed The Electric Car?). Fighting innovation with legislation can (at best) delay it, but it's not a winning long-term strategy.

Cars of the future will be connected, voice-activated, frequently updated, self-driving, have real-time traffic, streaming content, productivity apps, entertainment, and things that are yet to be invented. The software-driven high-technology in-car experience will mean that new software will be needed on a regular interval. The days of releasing a model year and then only touching it again if there's a recall are soon to be over. 

Can automakers attract the talent needed to provide all of this in-car software or will they cede this part of the market to the likes of Car Play and Android Auto?

Expecting a group of laggards and Luddites to change gears and become technology leaders is a big ask. The cultures ingrained in many of these companies will not allow this to happen. Hybrids have been the only significant drive-train breakthrough in decades and even that technology has never crossed the chasm to become mainstream. An industry that is used to a new transmission or valve timing method every 10 years or so, is not prepared to deliver "computers on wheels" that act more like smartphones than cars. 


Conclusion

The giants of the past are getting hit with a perfect storm of change. The role that cars play in our lives is changing, the expectations of personal transportation are changing, the fuel source is changing, the ownership model is changing. Perhaps these giants of the past could have navigated any one of these changes, but the near-simultaneous confluence of all 4 Horsemen will mean that they must adapt quickly or die. Some will acquire or partner with innovative start-ups in hopes of catching up. The culture clash will be enormous and this is unlikely to make it a fruitful alliance. We'll see which companies can reinvent themselves and which will fade into history along with the buggy-whip manufacturers that they once displaced. 

It is not too often that a change this big comes along. We certainly live in interesting times. 

----------------------------------

Creative destruction (German: schöpferische Zerstörung) is a concept in economics that describes the "process of industrial mutation that continuously revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one".

Disclosure: I'm long Tesla

Sunday, October 8, 2023

1000 Miles in a Tesla Model Y


We just crossed the 1000-mile mark in our Model Y. We ordered it in late July, took delivery in early August, and hit 1k miles in Early October. Can you call it a 'kilomile'?  

1000 miles is enough to drive from Portland to Los Angeles or Portland to Grand Junction, Colorado. Our trips, however, were daily driving, not a road trip (not yet). From our home in the west Portland suburbs, we've taken a couple round trips to the PDX airport. Our longest trip was to Corvallis. The space in the Y allowed us to load two bookshelves and an office chair in the back for delivery in Corvallis. This has been a fun vehicle to own.

Long Range FTW

The nice thing about the Corvallis run is that we were able to leave our home with a 90% charge, make the 175-mile round trip and arrive home with more than a 15% charge remaining. This included freeway driving speeds and all the elevation changes for the Cascade range. There were multiple opportunities to Supercharge if we needed to, but with the long range, there was no need to extend the travel time; we could comfortably make it home and recharge while we slept using our cheap overnight electricity rate.

FSD Evolution

We've been using FSD Beta for these drives. For me, it removes a lot of the fatigue out of driving. I remain attentive while using FSD, because it is beta and it does make mistakes. The attentiveness that FSD beta requires is different than the attentiveness of driving. Using FSD beta, I'm able to have more situational awareness. It has been nice to watch the FSD progress since V9 we had in our Model 3 to V11 that we have now in our Model Y. Version 12 is coming soon and could be the first version to not bear the beta tag. However, don't confuse this with a final release. V12 will likely be an RC version and will still require a human minder behind the wheel for some time.

Battery Degradation?

Long-time readers of the blog will know that I track the degradation of the batteries in our EVs. In 2011, we purchased a Nissan Leaf and the battery degraded faster than I wanted. After that experience, I keep an eye on the battery health of all of our EVs.

I'll be collecting data on the Model Y for the many years that we plan to own it. The good news is that Tesla batteries don't degrade nearly as fast as the Leaf packs did. 

In our first 1000 miles, there's no degradation to report. 

You can see the line in the graph above wiggle a bit. This variation in capacity is normal. The measurement always has some level of noise based on many factors (e.g., temperature, SoC...). The graph above is zoomed in on the top 30 miles. If we pulled back and looked at all 330 miles, the waves would wash out.

I'm tracking the battery health with TeslaFi. This is different from previous vehicles where I used LeafSpy or TMSpy. The TeslaFi website makes it easy. You don't have to charge to full to see the expected range. The header bar for your vehicle information includes a rated range, a personalized range, and an estimated rated range at full charge. 

If you want to try out TeslaFi, you can use my code (patrick7819) to double your free trial period from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. 

Over-the-Air Updates

During the 60 days that we've had our Model Y, we've received two software updates already. The August 30th update delivered FSD Beta v11.4.4. The second update occurred on Sept 20th and brought improved Autopilot visualizations, improved camera views, Hebrew language support, and a few other minor improvements. I'm excited to hit the install button every time one of these arrives. 

Wrapping Up

The first 1000 miles have been fun. We just installed the roof rack to add even more utility to the vehicle. I'll be posting annual updates to log our Tesla-fueled adventures as well as keeping an eye on the battery health. 

If you'd like to buy a Model Y (or any other Tesla product), you can use my referral code: https://ts.la/patrick7819

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Selling The Dream - Parting Ways With A Tesla


Did you sell or trade-in a Tesla? If so, regardless, if it was a Model 3, Model Y, S or X, there are a few things you should know. 

We recently sold our Tesla Model X via a Kelly Blue Book Instant Cash Offer. These are the lessons that we learned and they apply when parting ways with any Tesla vehicle.

If you've sold, traded in, ended a lease, or even totaled your Tesla, here are a few things you need to know. Below, I'll be referring to selling your Tesla, but most of this applies anytime you will no longer be the owner of the vehicle for any reason.

Selling a Tesla is a little different than selling other cars. You still have to certify the odometer and transfer the registration like other cars, but there are a few additional things that you have to do on the Tesla side of the house too. Since I just went through this, I thought it would be worth mentioning here.

There are three important, Tesla-specific things that you must do.

1) Do a Factory Reset
You don't want the new owner to hit Navigate, Home and end up in your drive way and you don't want them scrolling through your recent destinations or favorite locations list. You need to clear all of that out. 

You'll find the Factory Reset option in the menu under Controls \ Service
This will remove ALL of your custom settings. All of your streaming radio stations, gone. All of your favorites destinations, gone. Seat settings, garage door, charging schedule, gone gone gone... you get it. You should only do this if you have sold the vehicle. You'll have to enter your Tesla account password to initiate this process.

2) Remove (or reformat) Your Dash Cam Drive

Sentry Mode uses the vehicle's cameras and sensors to record suspicious activity around the vehicle when it's locked and in Park. Most Teslas now come with a 128 GB USB drive in the glove box for Sentry Mode video storage. Many owners upgrade this drive for more hours of logging. If you upgraded your drive to a bigger SSD or the like, remove your upgraded storage and install the (freshly formatted) drive that came with the vehicle (if any). If you're still using the drive that came with the car, you should delete the content. The easiest way to do this is to reformat the drive. You don't want to give the new owner the footage of the last 100 times you got into your car.  

3) Remove the vehicle from your Account
Warning: I would not do this step until the payment for your vehicle has cleared. The app lets you know where the vehicle is located and allows you to restrict its top speed. If there's a payment dispute, these features might be helpful features to allow you to get that resolved. 

When the deal is done and you're finally ready to say your last goodbye, open the Tesla app and then: 

  • Tap the profile icon in the top-right corner.
  • Tap Add/Remove Products
  • Under 'Remove' tap the vehicle that you no longer own
Again there will be confirmations and warnings. 

Hopefully, the new owner loves the vehicle as much or more than you did.

Disclaimer: I'm long TSLA. Feel free to use my referral code http://ts.la/patrick7819.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Trying to Buy an EV Nearly Cost Me My Sanity

Previously, we've discussed a friend and his nostalgia for the Saturn brand. Now, he's shopping for an EV; with Saturn long gone, what brand and model will he choose.

This has been a multi-year journey and it's not over yet. It's fair to say that the process is not going well. I sat down with him for an interview to share that story here, with you.

Solar Is Free EV 'Fuel'

CarsWithCords (CWC):
I understand that you're interested in buying an EV. Why?

Saturn Fan EV Shopper (SFES):
I have a big huge solar array on top of my house and I might as well have free "gas" because of it and I think we all need to be more responsible in terms of our carbon usage. It's becoming alarmingly clear if you've watched the weather at all, that Mother Nature is telling us that we have done bad.

Additionally, one of my side hobbies is carbon capture technologies. I like to play with algae and I've worked with state senators and state representatives trying to get legislation about carbon capture and carbon capture technology. So I really feel like I need to walk the walk here and an electric car is critical to getting less carbon into our atmosphere and I didn't realize when I started on that journey, how just weird and hard it was going to be. 

I knew the pandemic was gonna throw curveballs, but there were some decisions from automakers that just made me scratch my head. It really made me doubt my own sanity at times, which is not something that I thought was gonna happen, you know, while buying a car.

EVs Are Going Mainstream

CWC
What was the process you used to decide which EV was right for you?

SFES
So the good news is more and more EV options from the long-term brands.

I had been a long-time Saturn owner and that company folded, horrifically folded, as GM started to implode at one point. That left me at a point where I literally couldn't get my car repaired.

Rivian, Tesla, and some of the other start-ups are immediately off of the table because I didn't want to have to relive that tragedy. Also, I wanted a car, not a political statement, so that knocked out what I would call "vanity" brands. 

I wanted a car from an established brand. I wanted a car from the likes of Ford, VW, or Honda; these companies are older than I am and the probability of them surviving is much higher than a vanity brand or start-up; where, yeah, sure the CEO is completely invested now until he buys a new shiny thing and wants to call it X or something and I'm just making that part up.

CWC
That could never happen.

SFES
It may end up causing a massive distraction for the brand, for the support of the brand. So I just wanted to have, for lack of a better word, a mainstream provider. And so when I was EV shopping, I went to the Portland Auto Show. This was in February of 2021.

I Want A Car, Not A Starship

SFES
I tried out every EV they had there and, for me, they fell into two general categories.

Category One: they are trying to be Star Trek, where it was super high-tech and digital everything. And, you know, just weird glass cockpits that didn't make any sense or they were just very thinly reskinned and cludgy.

This is funny/ironic because I'm a huge Star Trek nerd. So that's how I like sci-fi, but that's not how I like my cars.

The second category was what I'd call normal cars. The Ford Mustang Mach-E was in this second category. Yes, it had the big screen, but it still had buttons and knobs in a familiar layout. 

The VW ID.4 was also in the second category.

There were a lot of cars, like some from Subaru and Nissan, that were there at the show but they were locked. What's on the inside? "You're gonna have to trust us."

I'm there to car shop. The car is there and I can't even sit in it. That didn't endear these brands to me.  

Dieselgate Is The Past, EVs Are The Future

I tried out the Volkswagen ID.4. I know some of your readers shaking their fists at me, "Volkswagen! They're the diesel-gate B*#%@#$."

Yeah, they're the diesel-gate B*#%@#$, but this is an EV. Yes, they cheated on diesel emissions. I felt like they had learned their lesson and an electric car is not a diesel. I didn't want to punish the EV for the sins of the diesel. But I went in very cognizant of sometimes, you know, we take imperfect choices because there are no perfect ones.

This was 2021, during the pandemic, and the car show was really weird. You had to have proof of vaccination. You had to wear a mask. They let in a very limited number of people at a time, so it was a pretty low-key show. One of the events was a "test ride." Sadly, they didn't let you behind the wheel, you were just a passenger and one of the sales droids drove you around a portion of the conference floor.

Even though I didn't get to drive, I thought that was really cool. I mean, you're actually on the event floor and they're actually driving it around. I was like, yeah, we can do that.

CWC
Right, that's pretty cool. Driving around indoors. You can't do that in a gas car.

SFES
EVs, yeah, no tailpipe, no tailpipe emissions.

Sitting in it, the ID.4 felt good. It was the size that I wanted my knees don't work as well as they used to, so I need something that has a little higher sit-point. It had a giant glass sunroof that I really liked. Even with the giant sunroof, they didn't change the location of the roof line, which I thought was really nice. It felt really well put together. That was attractive to me, getting in and out was easy, and it had the range I wanted.

We inherited a Nissan LEAF when my mother-in-law passed away. I drove the LEAF for a little while. It was used when she bought it so we were the third owners and the range was so degraded by the time that it came to us, it was unusable for our needs.

Based on that LEAF experience, I wanted something that had north of 200 miles of range and the the battery pack that was offered with the ID.4 at that time was like 240-260 or something like that. This would be plenty of range for our needs, even in winter with the heater on max or in the summer with the AC on high.

So I was really happy with the ID.4. It had the right feel, features, and range; so I went home expecting an ID.4 to soon be gracing my garage.

I talked it over with my wife. She agreed. Looking at the options online, they even had the color that I wanted. I've always loved blue cars and they offered it in blue. It came with a white weird kind of fake material trim, but I was like, OK, let's do this.

You had to pre-order it effectively to get a reservation. So I went to their website, filled out all the paperwork, designed my car in their configurator, and submitted it, including, you know, putting down some ducats. That got me into the queue. This was all in February 2021.

CWC
Sounds good so far. You found a car that you like and you've got the process going. I'm interested when the questioning of your sanity part comes into play.

SFES
Oh, it's coming.

The Frayed Ends of Sanity

SFES
When reserving the car, you had to pick a dealer that you wanted to work with. One of my current cars is a Mazda from a local dealership and they've treated me pretty well. They have a Volkswagen arm of their same dealership. They've been good enough to earn my business.

So I called them up to find out where to from here. They said they had completely misjudged the market acceptance of the ID.4 and there were 400 people waiting in the queue for an ID.4 at this one dealership alone.

CWC
400, wow!

SFES
He said, "I hope you've got patience." I was like, you know, I've got perfectly working cars right now, so I'm willing to be patient.

So he said, I'll get you an update in October. I was like, OK, you know, it's February and I'll get an update (not a car) in October.

October comes and my estimated delivery date is set to February 2022. One year after my order was placed. This was when the supply chain in 2021 really started drying up. There was apparently an automotive silicon factory that also had caught fire or had other disasters. There was automotive grade silicon worldwide constraint. That's not going to help. The dealership tells me that all the dealerships now have to compete for the limited stock so February is an estimate.

OK, I can be patient. I'll be patient. Just keep going. Keep going.


EV Racing With My Dad

SFES
In late 2021, my dad started looking for his next car. He was thinking he should go green as well. Looking into the EVs that are available, he found the Mercedes EQE.

After reading all the specs and a test drive, he says, "Yeah, I'll take one of those." So in January of 2022, he gets on the reservation list. Now, he and I are having a race. Who will get their EV first? And I'm like, "Dude, I'm totally gonna take you down. I've already got 10 months in the queue." 

His response was a simple, "We'll see. We'll see."

My trash-talkin' are words I'd be eating later.

The Waiting Game

SFES
And so I keep waiting and waiting.

Then I got a call from the dealership. I thought maybe the car was here. It wasn't. They're like, you know, this car is popular and in short supply because of the chip shortage. So the Feb 2022 estimate date became a March date and the March date became an October date. October came and went with no car. I would call periodically to let them know I was still waiting and interested. My estimated delivery was August of 2023.

The Ship Sank!

SFES
The dealership called me in July of 2023 to let me know that they had a large allocation, including some that matched my configuration, on a ship that was coming and my August 2023 delivery date looks good. Yes! It could finally happen.

Before July concluded, my hopes were scuddled. The car cargo transport carrying thousands of cars, including one that might've been mine, caught fire and sank in the North Sea. The ship had several month's worth of ID.4 production in it. This made the worldwide shortage of ID.4s radically worse.

The Blue Blues

SFES
In August of this year, my patience was wearing thin so I called up the dealership, "Bro, what's going on here, man? We seem to be perpetually delayed? What's the new estimate?"

He said that they were reordering their allocation for the sunk cars and there was a problem. He said, "Well, the interior that you wanted, the interior fabric supplier is no longer supplying that color."

And I'm like, "OK, so put a different color fabric in it." The interior of the car was not a big factor for me. It wasn't some great thing; the materials, the color, it was kind of just good enough.  

They said, "Well, that's not how it works. Volkswagen is discontinuing the blue exterior color because it was paired with this interior color that's no longer available."

That makes no sense to me. Get it from another supplier, put in a black interior, a white interior, or a tan interior. Any of these would work with a blue exterior. And I'm now you can see where the last strands of my sanity starting to evaporate.

They tell me I can have it in silver or gray, or any of the dullest possible imaginable colors. I just wanted blue. If I'm spending all this money on a new car, I should be able to get it in the color I like. I wasn't asking for some rare sapphire-encrusted exterior. I just wanted a normal blue, like I'd ordered. How hard is it to have a blue car?

And it was a little bit like the reverse of the old Henry Ford line of you can have it any color you want, as long as it's black. But for me it was, I could have it in any color I wanted as long as it wasn't blue.

At this point, I'm in the official VW queue and they've long ago locked in my $100 non-refundable deposit and that money is not coming back. 

Jaded By Harsh Reality

SFES
I ordered this car two and a half years ago and I still have no car. The fates seem to be plotting against me. The optimist man who thought an EV would be in his garage soon has been replaced by a cynic. I'm pulling the plug on my ID.4 dream. 

I called the dealership and said, "I'm done, you guys. I don't feel like you want my business bad enough. You're not giving me any options. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect delivery in less than 2 years." I know the dealership is only able to offer what VW makes, so my real issue is with VW corporate, not my local dealership; but in the end what matters is whether can I get what I ordered, and in this case, the answer was 'no.'

I mean, how hard is it to use a different interior with the blue exterior. The fact that they were inflexible in this regard made me worried for them as a brand. 

I officially canceled my reservation.

Dad For The Win

SFES
I'll call up my dad ready to eat crow and I say, "OK, I'm going back to square one. You're probably gonna win."

He says, "I'm totally gonna win. My car is scheduled to be manufactured this month (August) with delivery in September."

So my dad actually picked his car up last week (early September), so he's got the EQE now and he's starting to learn how to drive it.

He very much so won. He has his car right now, and I don't even have one ordered.

My dad is 79 years old. So you're never too old to get an EV. I never expected this. He's been a total gearhead for his entire life. He enjoys turning a wrench and he has rebuilt and customized multiple cars over his lifetime. I honestly didn't think I'd ever see him in an EV because he has gasoline in his blood. It's just easy for him to see EVs are the path forward. They're the way to keep us independent from oil.

There's been a little bit of a learning curve for him. At 79 things are a little bit harder, but he says the most surprising thing so far has been it goes from zero to "oh, God, how fast am I going?" way too fast for his 79-year-old reaction times. But new cars like his also have all of these new modern safety features like collision avoidance, lane keeping, self-park, and other features. It will be really, really exciting to see how these features mature.

Good for him, at least one of us got an electric car.

Single & Searching 

SFES
I'm back to single but searching and I'd put my car status as "complicated." There are still lots of opportunities and there are more and more brands building more and more options, which is exciting. The supply chain issues seem to be mostly resolved, so there's hope. 

But I've had some job variability recently and that made me wanna sit on the sideline financially for a little bit. I want to avoid any large purchases right now. My big problem with EVs right now is that the ones with a practical size and range for my needs are fifty to sixty grand, which is quite a bit of an investment. This is slowly changing, but not as fast as I'd like. 

New models are coming out, existing models are getting updated, and I'm back in the market. I'm really hoping I won't be featured on your blog again as that guy who failed at buying an EV part 2.

It Just Hangs There Mocking Me

SFES
One of the annoying parts for me is when they said "Your car will be here soon," I had a residential hard-wired Level 2 charging connector installed in my garage. It's been installed since February and it has had *zero* car charging sessions. 

It's kind of an albatross on my wall saying you spent a lot of money (for nothing - so far). I had to wire her off a separate circuit and do a whole bunch of other stuff to make it work, so it was a pretty penny. I'd like to think it's more Volkswagen's failure than mine, but there's a certain level of spiritual depantsing every time I look at it; oh damn it, why do I not have my electric car.

The good news was I was able to advise my dad when he got his charging connector. And this is maybe a little bit of a heads-up for some of your readers, Dad lives in a house that was built in 1976. It's electrical panel is actually classified as a fire hazard and if anybody with an electrical license interacts with it they have to flag it and tell the state and you have to get it updated. So he called the electrician that installed mine, when they showed up to do the consult they're like whoa boyyo this is gonna cost you. They have to completely replace the panel, they have to completely replace the electrical runs to the meter and the meter as well. They were all out of spec. That's a lot of rewiring, which was an expense that he hadn't expected when pricing the car. The upgrades involve a lot of permitting and working with the local utility for the meters. The county and utilities are not always as timely as you'd like them to be. 

CWC
It sounds like he's getting rid of a potential fire hazard, which is a good thing.

SFES
Yeah, it was pretty funny because my dad is an electrical and mechanical engineer. He said, "If I'd known that was that much of a problem, I'd have done something about it sooner."

I told him, "You know, I known someplace with a brand new charger that's never been used. If you let me borrow the car for a day or 2, I'll bring it back with a full charge." This little joke reminded me of my high school days, "Dad, can I borrow the car?" 

With Dad replying, "Sure, but you know the rule, bring it home with a full tank." But seriously, he doesn't live far from me and he is welcome to stop by anytime and charge up if he needs it. It would make me feel like I've actually done good with my investment.

Ironically, I installed my charging connector too soon. My dad didn't start the process until after he picked up his car and it's going to be at least 3 months before he has his service upgraded and can level 2 charging in his garage. Until then he can trickle charge on level 1, charge at my place, and use the local DC fast chargers. So he has options. 

So a word to the wise, if you have an older house, maybe the first step that you do is an inspection and estimate for a Level 2 connector installation in your garage because that might end up being the long pole.

I'm Not Giving Up

CWC
So what are your EV plans now? 

SFES
Yeah, I think I'll rerun the same plan from 2021 again. The Portland Auto Show is coming in a few months. I'll head there and kick all the tires and sit in the seats and everything; go on any EV ride and drive events. There's only so much you can learn about a car online. For me, I have to see it, touch it, and sit in it to really know if it's the right car for me.

And I've been considering opening up my strike zone a little bit. The Bolt EV is a really cute car. I had dismissed it in the past because I blamed GM for killing Saturn, but as I said, there are no perfect choices. So this one may be in the running. I like that it's smaller. They've had some issues though, uh, like where they said, you know, don't park it inside. I'm going to make sure all of those issues have been resolved. 

I like the Nissan Ariya too. The outside is kind of sleek and elegant. The inside has some really kind of weird quirks, so I'm hoping that the next model year will maybe straighten out a couple of those.

The Subaru I only got to see from the outside of the car show I had a Subaru previously. Maybe I'll actually get to sit in one this time. The cockpit layout that they had in the diagram at the car show seemed like they were going the Star Trek route, so I'll have to try it out.

I was looking at the Audi Electric SUV and that was I was really close to pulling the trigger on that one. It's a nice car. It ticked all the boxes. It wasn't a Star Trek car. It was a little bit heavier than I wanted and it was a lot more expensive than I wanted, but I was Jonesing for an EV so bad I was willing to be a little bit stupid. But then when I got that little bit of variability in my life, I was like, nope, nope. This is not the time to financially stretch. No room for stupid right now. I'll put them all back in the hopper again and just kind of walk around the car show and see what I can get.

I don't think I'll have much of an ability to be patient this time. A few months is okay, but if they want to put me on a list for a year plus again, I might have to choke somebody out.

CWC
Whoa, I see the ID.4 experience has left a bad taste in your mouth.

SFES
You know, I see ID.4s around all the time and I'm like ohh that could have been mine. I still like the look, I still like the shape. When I see a blue one I'm like hmm, what's the punishment for Grand Theft Auto these days? LOL. 

EV sales are increasing, every year there are more models. There will be a lot of opportunities for me to become an EV owner. It'll be exciting to watch this transition unfold. I'm not going to wait for the next battery technology breakthrough. I'm in the market now. You see headlines every week about solid-state batteries or aluminum batteries or some other thing that's coming down the Pike like a thousand-mile battery. I've been promised jetpacks long enough that I'm you know I'm not gonna hold my breath. I've worked in technology for a long time and I know that it's a lot easier to write press releases than it is to make products in high volume. Being able to make one cell in a lab is far from being able to mass produce something with 5-nines of yield. I definitely don't want perfect to be the enemy of progress here, so I'll get something in my garage and on that charger before the end of 2024. Maybe it'll be something that you haven't had a road test on and I can let you kick the tires on it and write up a happy ending as the next part in this saga. 

CWC
Yeah, that'd be fun.

NACkered 

CWC
A lot of EV manufacturers have announced that they're going to be switching from the J1772 port to the North American Charge Standard (NACS) port in 2025. Are you worried that you'll be buying in a 'lame duck' year? 

SFES
Much like waiting for battery advancements, I don't think it's right to wait for things like this either. There will be adapters, NACS to J1772, NACS to CCS. There are too many CCS/J1772 cars on the road today for support to disappear. There might even be a conversion kit to swap the actual port at some time.

You've got to have some sort of backward compatibility and a migration strategy that doesn't alienate your earliest and most fervent supporters. I work professionally on a technology that is still going strong 40 years on. The original packets still work with today's networks even though the speeds are orders of magnitude faster. Hopefully, they've got that same kind of attitude to have a smart strategy that makes it easy to convert. If this a Betamax versus VHS challenge, uh, you know, they're gonna alienate a lot of people.

CWC
I think you have the right attitude there. The perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good. Automakers have to have a plan to not abandon people in some legacy technology. There will certainly be adapters and I like your idea of conversion kits for an easy upgrade path.

CWC
Well, so when you actually do go to the car show, we'll have to do this again.

SFES
Yeah. You should come with me! It was fun the year we went with a couple of our other buds. 

CWC
Yes, that was a fun time.

SFES
You can live-blog of the Portland Auto Show. Come on readers, leave a comment telling Pat he should go!

I bring a notebook and take notes on each car I check out, because, as Adam Savage says, "Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down." You can use my notes as field research. 

The notes really help me compare after the fact. I think I get better results this way than real-time and memory. 

I really like having all the cars under one roof. I don't have to go from dealership to dealership. The Auto Show is a bit of a long day, but it saves a lot of time overall. I'll wear a mask, socially distance where I can, bring hand sanitizer etc. It's a public event, COVID and other nasties are still out there.

SFES
With the Nissan Ariya that I looked at it online. I didn't really like it, but I know seeing it personally can be a very different experience than a photo can convey. Then when I finally did see one IRL, it was a much nicer car than the photos convied. You just don't get a good sense of scale with photographs. And no photo can tell you how putting your actual cheeks in the seat will feel. Only sitting there can tell you whether or not it's wide enough or not for your caboose.

CWC
Exactly, butts in seats is a tried and true method. 

Speaking of butts in seats, I do want to put in a plug for National Drive Electric Week. There are events all around the world. You can find one near you by checking driveelectricweek.org 

The Oregon Electric Vehicle Association is hosting on October 8th with a ride & drive and a lot of different EVs to try out. You can talk to actual owners rather than sales guys (although some of them may be there too): 

OEVA’s NDEW Event Ride & Drive Info Expo 
October 8th, 10am-4pm
4330 S Macadam Ave, Portland, OR (Tesla Sales & Service Center)
w/ generous support from Portland General Electric (PGE)
Many local dealers to provide EV ride & drives, 26 different vehicles, 13 Brands

There are a lot of events coming up in late September and early October. So you might be able cheek out some cars and it would be even cheaper than the car show and sooner.

SFES
That's a great idea.

It's important to have a community because when you're switching from horse-drawn buggies to motor-powered, it's nice to have somebody who's kind of been on the journey and can talk you through some of the things. I've learned quite a bit from you and your blog on my journey. Switching technologies like this, what charger to get and some other things, having somebody who's been there, done that, it definitely makes it a lot easier to make the move with confidence.

CWC
That sounds like a nice wrap-up point. Any final words you want to add?

SFES
San Dimas High School Football Rules!

Just kidding.

CWC
Ha ha.

Thanks a lot for your time and I will definitely swing by and try your charge connector so it doesn't get lonely.

SFES
Next, next time you're playing pickleball and your battery is low, just text me and swing by. Free juice for you and your car.

CWC
Thanks!